We stopped at Muriel's on the way home to Ottawa. The kids were extremely excited to see the cuckoo, even if we did forget the whistle again. Elizabeth was very impressed by the Christmas lights coming into the house!
I unfortunately somehow poisoned myself on the way there (crumbs from sandwiches in with the treats?) and had to put myself to bed midway through dinner.
We were glad to have a leisurely morning breakfast before heading out in time to avoid the incoming poor winter weather.
We made it to the hippo house for our family Christmas. Dave and Karen and crew had to stay home because of Dave's back and Mom and Dad are in Angola but the rest of us made it! We actually managed the drive all the way to Mary's with only a single stop for a bathroom. There might be hope for more peaceful travelling in our future! It was super foggy - when we stopped the fog was just obscuring the tips of the trees but by the time we left again you could hardly see the trees at all anymore!
After we put the big kids to bed Mary and Brendan and I played ticket to ride and I misinterpreted the rules so I lost! Oops!
We gathered at the Crosshill church for an epic lunch featuring ham and turkey and a remarkable number of gluten free dishes, including stuffing, scalloped potatoes and so-called funeral mustard.
I was extremely interested by the "funeral mustard", having never noticed it before although Mary tells me there was quite a lot at Grandma's funeral and it's apparently a thing around here. This was the mustard of her childhood.
Funeral Mustard Recipe: 1 egg, 3/4c sugar, 1tsp dry mustard powder, 2 heaping tsp gelatin, dash of turmeric and salt, 2/3 c vinegar, 2/3 c water
Mix everything except vinegar and water. Stir well. Boil in microwave (stir a couple of times). Mary boiled it for 2 minutes in her microwave which resulted in a mustard explosion so I’d watch it closely... The boiling is apparently important. Stir in vinegar and water. Let sit/ Chill.
Triple it and stir into 10lbs of potatoes to make 1qt of potato salad. Original recipe from Anna Mae Steinmann.
It was fun to catch up with cousins and aunts and uncles, albeit too briefly... We played many games. I had a rematch of ticket to ride... and misread the board (in my defense it was upsidedown) so lost AGAIN! Great fun was had by all.
Matthew lost his second tooth! The tooth fairy had some miscommunication - Matthew duly put it out on the table, but when I woke up in the middle of the night in great panic to "assist" the fairy I could not locate the tooth. So I ended up hauling my darling husband upstairs and eventually located the tooth in the garbage. Mary had accidentally put the tooth (in plastic bag) in the garbage. Then in the morning Mary saw the bag (but not the money!) and thought - oops so she hid the bag just as Matthew came up. Of course he was then confused as to where it was and she had to finesse unhiding the bag and putting it back on the table. We had a good laugh over it all.
In the morning Elizabeth showed Aunt Judy some karate moves, to the great amusement of all. Then we invaded Great Aunt Esther and Great Uncle Roy's house next door and barely escaped with the house intact. One small child needed to leave slightly earlier than the rest after getting a bit... wild. It was fun to see everyone and Elizabeth was thinking maybe she shouldn't have signed up for karate adventures January first so we could have had more time!
Every so often there's a random photo that doesn't quite fit anywhere or I didn't have the energy to put in its own post but I can't bear to delete. For the past three years I've been throwing them into a leftovers folder and deciding that I'll post them "sometime". It's probably time...
The ugly bugs are cicadas and their exuviates, in case you are wondering.
The squirrel was hanging out in the car seat because the kids have dropped THAT much food in it. I didn't realize the source of interest until a flock of birds started attacking the Styrofoam. After that I rescued the seat and brought it inside.
Nora and Simon (and parents) came to visit us which was very exciting. Elizabeth and Nora still get along really well.
We ordered Swiss Chalet and my kids' minds were BLOWN when they discovered that it was Daniel, Nora and Simon's first time eating Swiss Chalet. Elizabeth reminded me that when she was very little she didn't even know that there were other restaurants.
Jessica reminded me that they still have chicken, vegetables and fries because she's still teasing me about a rather awkward conversation I had with the staff at Swiss Chalet back when we were teenagers and still figuring out this whole ordering out by ourselves thing. But I maintain that it is still weird that you can't get all three together in one meal without ordering an extra side and you used to be able to.
It was super fun to see them and we'll have to go visit them in Boston sometime.
We went sledding at Bruce Pit with Dianne and her kids Boxing Day. It was our first up close and personal look at the damage from the tornado. Softened slightly by the newly fallen snow perhaps, but it was pretty unbelievable. Matthew held my hand tight much of the walk there. “The forest makes me feel sad” The previously dense forest has so many new (unnatural) clearings.
Elizabeth was a bit tense walking through the dog park but everyone enjoyed the sledding. Amelia preferred being pulled to/from the hill to actually going down the hill. Technically it was closed due to ice and for a minute I had flashbacks to that time we went down Landsdowne and Elizabeth declared she’d never sled without a helmet again. We actually left our helmets in the car not wanting to carry them but since that was partly Elizabeth’s decision she didn’t complain. She did pointedly check that this was ACTUALLY safe this time. Amelia went down two or three times with her siblings and was going to go with me but then decided it was making her tummy sore and decided to stop. I didn’t mind.
We were invited back to Aidan, Caitlin and Evelyn’s house for lunch. Caitlin’s friend came over too and the kids played together with new toys, especially Aidan’s new home Escape room game which was declared great fun, though maybe not quite as fun as a real escape room. They would have liked to stay longer but Daddy and Michael were missing us so with promises to get together soon we headed home again.